The Snow Storm Birthday

My backyard on March 24, 2013

My backyard on March 24, 2013

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.  –Carl Sandberg

Yesterday, we set a record here in Central Indiana.  According to WTHR, our NBC affiliate, it was the largest snowfall ever recorded in March.  As of this morning, there were 8 inches in my backyard and the snow continues to fall.  The previous record of 5.8 inches was set on March 1, 1912. March ONE.  For goodness sakes, God, it’s March 24!!  On this day, my birthday, I usually plant pansies in my front porch flower pots.  What is going on here?

It seemed to me as the forecasters continued to issue their “Winter Storm Warning” in advance of Palm Sunday 2013 that this was just going to be an utterly depressing weekend.   I was thinking like my friend Lauren who posted on her Facebook page, “You know that phrase – I’ll see you when hell freezes over?  Snow at the end of March makes you wonder.  Just sayin”

I’m absolutely with you, Lauren.   You make me laugh because I was thinking this is what the first week of spring is supposed to look like…..maybe in Juneau, Alaska?

Ever an optimist and determined to enjoy myself anyway, I remembered this little golden nugget.

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  (Ps 118:24)

Ok, God, I will try to love this snow covered birthday.  I will.

Being a lover of all celebrations of life, and with childlike enthusiasm for my own as well, I jokingly issue annual reminders to all who will listen about the upcoming “festival of Shelly” when it comes around exactly one week after St. Patrick’s Day each spring.  If that seems a tad childish and disturbingly narcissistic, then you have a clear and accurate picture.  A gal has got to do what a gal has got to do.

I’ll not defend myself so much as ask that you allow me to explain.  First of all, I have the most amazing parents (no, really, mine are the best) who taught me birthdays are just plain “the greatest”.   We have some fairly terrific birthday memories from over the years and NO MATTER WHAT Mom and Dad always find a way to get us together to celebrate every birthday in the family WITHOUT FAIL.  Always.  This exercise is compulsory.

God used them to teach me something about the value of every life.   I believe a birthday is a gift– it is one day set aside each year to celebrate life.  If your life intersects with mine on a regular basis, eventually I will seek out the date of your birth, add it to my calendar, and when it’s your day,  I will try to make sure sun shines all over you.  Some of you will resist and you will lose your battle.  On my day, I love the chance to celebrate my fantastic life, filled with gratefulness, with those I love.  All of us have been given that great gift of life, all of us are made in God’s image, and all of us have lives worth thanking God for with a little gusto on our special day!

Secondly, a gal sometimes has to advertise the birthday just to hedge against the possibility the CPA husband could lose track of her fabulousness during these ugliest days of tax season.  My friend Lisa would call this my “charmingly abrasive” side.  However, 80 and 90 hour work weeks are brutal.  My guy is pretty well trained now and I could probably back down the advertising campaign, but now it’s kind of a treasured ritual of our family life! Right, honey?

Stay with me now as I circle back to the snow covered birthday of 2013.

My fabulous husband suggested, in advance of the snow, that our immediate family go for dinner to open up the festival.  We did that on Saturday night.  I chose “The Ram” in Fishers because I am a mom with 3 boys and a husband who love March Madness and I knew we could enjoy our family time AND see the games.  I even got to overrule the watching of Tiger Woods on the golf channel “because it’s my birthday” and watching golf on TV makes removing old wallpaper seem like fun.  We giggled, ate onion rings, and then came home, watched more basketball.  Later, they brought me a scoop of ice cream with 2 candles on top and sang, “Happy Birthday”.  In short, it was awesome!

When I opened my eyes the next morning, yesterday, the snow was already falling.  We made it to mass and the grocery store.  My crazy parents drove down here in the snow.  Mom and I went shopping for Easter dresses while the snow came down.  Dad taught the kids a new card game.  We had pizza for dinner, we ate my favorite homemade angel food cake, and then the greatest thing happened!!

THERE WAS SO MUCH SNOW.

There was so much snow in fact that the boys got to stay up late because school was cancelled.

There was so much snow that their grandparents decided to spend the night.

So, the party continued.  There was a long, loud card game won by Tom, a lesson on what exactly is “The Harlem Shake” for the grandparents, there was late night hot chocolate, NCAA basketball bracket updates, more giggling, and bacon and eggs this morning for breakfast followed by a game of euchre.

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God- who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Thanks to Tom, Nick, Drew, Zach, Mom and Dad for ringing in my 42nd birthday with me during the snow covered weekend.   It was fantastic.  I love you.  You all are the most amazing blessing.

And God?  You just get me.  The snow storm birthday of 2013—nice.  THANKS.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough.  Each moment is all we need, not more.”  Mother Teresa

Some Thoughts from Bed

David, Zach and Anthony at the apple orchard

People see God every day, they just don’t recognize him.

–Pearl Bailey

A virulent strain of the flu has been overwhelming my family for the past week or so.  It first struck my youngest, Zach.  The next victim of said illness really was my Chrysler Towne and Country, which suffered a rather dreadful fate as child #2 inherited the condition on I-465, about 20 minutes from home.  Within hours of that ugly incident, my husband, Tom, decided his most appropriate resting place was the floor of the master bathroom.  While Tom and Drew lived the worst part of their illness, I was in the driveway taking a hose to the inside of my minivan.  The realization that my stylish rubber gloves were a rather feeble defense against this bug was not far from my mind.  Therefore, it was no surprise when I woke up feeling quite ill this morning at 2am.

My mind was filled with all the people I was bound to inconvenience with my illness today.  I was supposed to drive my 2nd grader and his classmates to the apple orchard this morning.  I emailed and texted apologies to school teachers and administrators, hoping they would get my message in time.  I had committed to picking up Nick and and his buddy Grant from school and taking them to the last freshman football home game after school today.  That was certainly out.  I apologized as I sent an explanation and an alternative plan to Grant’s mom—from my pillow.  I cancelled the orthodontist appointment.  I cancelled the pitching lessons.   I called on my friend Sara to take over my lunchroom “captaincy” for tomorrow.  400 kids will need to be fed, but I should clearly not touch their food.  I sent a pathetic call for help text to my friend Donna offering $100 for two Excedrin.

Here’s the thing, though.  God was with me all day long.

My parents woke up well before dawn and drove an hour to be here with Nick for Grandparents Day at Guerin Catholic High School.  They did this despite the fact that I had called off their sleepover here in Indy, not wanting to expose them to our illness.  As I rested in bed, too unwell to even say hello, I listened as my dad helped Nick get his tie on for the all school mass he and mom had driven so early from Lafayette to attend.

Despite his lingering symptoms and minor fever, my hard working husband went to work this morning.  Feeling unwell himself, he nevertheless called to check on us, and he offered to take his lunch hour to bring us whatever we might need.  My friend Donna not only brought the medicine, but she let herself in and delivered it right to my bedside.  I think she might have been holding her breath the whole time so as not to inhale our germfest, but she was here.  That’s love.   The terrific 2nd grade teacher I so inconvenienced this morning sent me a get well note and a smiling photo of my baby on a hayride at the apple orchard.  When I emailed a mom new to the our parish and school asking if she might be able to fill in for me in the lunchroom, she apologized that she was unable to fill in, but insisted she was bringing dinner for the family and that she would leave it on the porch.  Two neighbors who have boys in Zach’s Monday night basketball, not even knowing I was ill, called to offer to bring him.  I had just used up the last of my energy taking a shower, trying to figure a way to muster the wherewithal to make it downstairs to take him.  My friend Sara checked in on me and alerted me that she not only would take over for me tomorrow but had found me a substitute as well.  I could go on and on.

So, despite the rough start and the continuing fatigue, I know too this was a day filled with blessings.  Nausea still has me in its clutches, but I see God loving me.  Mother Teresa is famous for saying we can do no great things, only small things with great love.  My family, friends, and faith community reminded me today of how completely God uses them as instruments of His love in my life.  All those people are God-sends, I thought.

How idle it is to call certain things God-sends!  As if there was anything else in the world.

–Augustus William

St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us!